Updated at 4:29 p.m.
Despite increasing his pace of U.S. District Court and U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals nominations, President Barack Obama failed to make as many of them as President George W. Bush did at the three-year mark of his administration, according to a Brookings Institution research paper released Friday.
Obama has nominated 133 individuals for district court judgeships and 37 for appellate seats. Bush tapped 165 individuals for district seats and 49 for circuit seats during the first three years of his presidency.
But Obama seems to be picking up his pace. Of his total number, 137 Obama’s nominations came after the first year of his administration.
Brookings visiting fellow Russell Wheeler, who authored the paper, said in an interview it is “very unlikely” that Obama will be able to make as many judicial nominations as Bush did during his first four years.
The Bush administration “had a very well-designed judicial nomination strategy,” Wheeler said.
Obama’s lack of nominations is partly to blame for the rise in judicial vacancies, but the number of judges that have taken senior status and the low number of judicial confirmations also play a role, according to Wheeler.
During the first three years of Obama’s presidency, 92 judges took senior status, while 70 took it during that time in the Bush administration.
The Senate has confirmed 97 of Obama’s district court nominees and 25 of his circuit court picks, giving the president 41 fewer district judges and four less circuit court appointees than Bush had at this point in his presidency.
Despite receiving fewer confirmations than Bush, Obama has made changes to some of the characteristics of the courts, Wheeler notes in his report.
Obama has increased the percentage of circuit judges appointed by a Democrat from 37% to 44%. He also gave only 38% of his district and circuit court appointments to white males, down from 66% under Bush.